Riding the BIG waves
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My Creative Samba paid newsletter is packed with actionable insights about copywriting, marketing and how the human mind works. So you can learn how to think & write more creatively — like Pro copywriters do.
Thinking like a copywriter won't just help you write better. It will change how you think about business problems (And will help you solve them with a good dose of creativity, with less effort).
You don't need BIG budgets to solve BIG marketing problems.
Beja is a small yet lovely city with a population of about 33k.
Beja is also the capital of the Baixo Alentejo District in Portugal.
Beja international airport opened to civilian flights in April 2011.
José Sócrates was Portugal's Prime Minister at the time.
His government invested 33 million euros to convert Beja airport from a military base to an international airport.
Because Sócrates wanted to reposition the Alentejo region (about the size of the State of Maryland in America).
In other words, Sócrates wanted to develop local tourism in a region that has many charming attractions. Like castles, renaissance palaces, roman temples, medieval villages. Or the Alqueva dam (the largest artificial lake in Europe). And also incredible wineries and restaurants.
Sócrates believed that the new airport was THE way to attract low cost airlines to the region.
And if low cost airlines started flying to Beja, then tourists would come.
The Portuguese Government expected half a million passengers to fly to Beja Airport every year. And they expected to reach this goal by 2013.
But no one came. Because no one knew Beja exists.
In fact, between 2011 and 2017 only 8,500 passengers flew to Beja airport.
Nazaré is a cute fishing village (with a population of 14,989) in central Portugal.
Today, Nazaré's Praia do Norte (North Beach) is home to the World's biggest surfable waves.
But ten years ago Nazaré wasn't even a surf town. And no one in the international surf community had even heard of Nazaré OR big waves in Portugal.
The truth is, everything changed because of an email.
Dino Casimiro is a Portuguese bodyboarder from Nazaré. Dino also happens to work for the Nazaré City Hall.
The City Hall was looking for new ways to promote the big waves and tourism in the region.
So one day in 2005 Dino emails BIG wave surfer Garrett McNamara out of the blue.
Dino sends McNamara a photo of this giiiiiiiiant wave he took at Praia do Norte and asks, "Can you come see if my wave is big and good?"
Long story short, in 2010 McNamara finally decides to give Nazaré a shot and flies to Portugal.
The city hall decides to sponsor McNamara to promote Nazaré’s big waves.
And 4 locals (Dino Casimiro, Paulo Salvador, Paulo Caldeira and Pedro Pisco) help McNamara build a small support team of local jet-ski drivers, spotters and lifeguards...so McNamara could ride Nazaré’s big waves as safely as possible.
A photographer called Jorge Leal was also brought in to document everything McNamara and his team were doing.
Then one day in 2011 McNamara surfs a monster 23.77m wave (78ft).
That day McNamara broke the World´s record for the biggest wave ever surfed.
And suddenly, McNamara and Nazaré were everywhere: ESPN, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, NYT, surf websites, social media.
Nazaré used to be a popular holiday destination for many Portuguese families during summer months (July & August), but was empty in the winter.
Now Nazaré is the World's new big-wave Mecca for extreme surfers.
And the new big-wave Disneyland for tourists who want to see the World's biggest waves.
What this means is the “biggest wave ever surfed” campaign had an economic impact of over $10.04 million between 2011 and 2014. And now local hotels, cafes and restaurants are packed five months of the year.
People don’t buy products, people buy stories that resonate.
So maybe what Beja needed in 2011 was a good story, not an airport.
But every good story needs a hero (like McNamara) and a good writing team (like Dino Casimiro and his gang).
Takeaways for your business:
1. People don’t buy products. People buy lifestyle upgrades, social status symbols or cultural acceptance. People buy peace of mind, time savers or...the “good enough” option. In other words, people buy stories that resonate.
2. BIG creative ideas are ideas that solve business and marketing problems BECAUSE they have the power to become a topic of conversation.
3. To come up with a BIG idea never start with the product you’re selling; start with a tension (within a cultural truth). Then connect the dots to your product, and think in newspaper headlines.
4. To tell a story that resonates you need four things: a problem (Introduction - Ki), development (a narrative that explains what happened - shō ), a twist (a new, unrelated element appears - ten) and a conclusion (ketsu). Kishōtenketsu is a 4-act narrative structure that gives you a fresh new perspective and a style to play with when you have to write copy.
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